UGS 303 Study Guide - Fall 2019, Comprehensive Midterm Notes - United States, Slavery, Slavery In The United States

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Published on 14 Feb 2019
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UT-Austin
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Undergraduate Studies
Course
UGS 303
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UGS 303
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Civil discourse is the interaction in the public workspace that requires the respect for conflicting ideas and
overcoming the idiosyncrasies if the evidence is credible enough to better accommodate the historical investigation.
This means the civil discourse is not only important to know the basic facts but to place the contemporary society
into context and perspective. For instance, we are still abiding by the "US constitution" which was set forth hundred
of years ago through the civil discourse procedure.
After giving society the formal context, the civil discourse also facilitates the mutual discussion that sets the rules
and regulations for the society. The senate can be taken as an example. The members of the senate are citizens first.
They involve in cloture and filibuster all the time. Filibuster is an argument to oppose other's proposal. It is a way to
present one's idea to pass one's legislation. The cloture is the "expression" that counteracts the filibuster. In tis
mechanism, these two legislative procedures constitute the "constructive confrontation", Wegge's one of the
elements in civil discourse.
Civil discourse is useful at protecting the civil project- living together with democratic ideals. Democracy is the
backbone of the civil society. Civil discourse provides the platform to engage in the debates. The debate that wins
the most support wins the support is the "majority." However, democracy also gives the voice to the minor group in
democratic states through the procedural mechanisms such as "filibuster-one that is back-boned by civil discourse."
Therefore, the civil discourse helps to protect civil project and reinforce democracy.
America, being the democratic state, bears the most cost when its citizens do not get involved in civil discourse. In
the recent presidential elections, the voter turnout rate has fallen(fairvote). With it comes the plummeting of the
discussions and/or debates focused around electing candidates in the major administrative positions in the country.
Moreover, most of the news content in the media spaces are utterly biased based on the party affiliations. In
response to these are the derogatory responses that target the party's agenda and ideology that rather than facilitating
the public discussion of the politics and its discussions, fosters anger and idiosyncraises. Thus, I believe that the civil
discourse is not as much vivid compared to what it used to be few decades ago.
Civil discourse facilitated the "American Revolution" necessary for the "sovereignty" of the America. It was
necessary to define the terms and coalitions to gain the support from France and Spain. The "Federalist papers"
necessary to define the huge "opinion battle" among the federalists and the anti-federalists. Civil discourse made the
public stage possible to gain popular support for key issues to develop America to its current state.
In order to keep America growing, as the past leaders had envisioned, civil discourse can help foster the discussion
that can bind the whole community into the "agreeing terms" that can formulate laws and promote better self of
America. To promote it, one can organize a simple facebook page and facilitate unbiased discussion irrelevant to
one's political ideology and beliefs. Participating in elections can be a good example to promote the civil discourse.
Moreover, Individual can participate in the peaceful demonstrations in the opposition of legislations.
Works cited
FairVote.org. “Voter Turnout.” FairVote, www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101.
“Why Is Civil Discourse Important?” Charles Koch Institute, www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/free-speech-
and-toleration/civil-discourse-important/.
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Interpreting the past 2: Shifting research
The Americas were perceived to be the land of “wilderness” before Columbus arrived. The
author Miller, in “An Environmental History of Latin America”, and Mann, in his “149:New
Revelations of the Americas before Columbus”, assert that the contemporary understanding of
the environment and agriculture of the Americas is compromised due to the mass promotion of
pristine myth: theory that the Americas were the mere wilderness(Mann). However, both of the
authors aggressively argue that the continent was extensively populated and settlements,
farming, wildlife disturbance, earthworks, road and fields were ubiquitous. It has been devised
that the population of natives was “ less visible in 1750 than in 1492” (Mann). This notion
supports that human settlements were frequent and actual population was higher than predicted.
These settlements of people were involved in the land management(Miller). The natives made
the cultivation lands around their villages and houses. Moreover, these lands were facilitated
with the reservoirs, raised fields, sunken fields, drainage ditches and dams that were widely
distributed across America. Moreover, the population was involved in the pasture management.
They set grasses on fire to make the land more fertile and alternatively led to disturbance of the
wildlife. Similarly, One can see the canals and other form of infrastructures such as modified
landform for reservoirs, which supported the existence of technology in Americas and their
civilization in advanced cities.
Due to the credible evidence provided by these historians, many researchers are investigating on
American lands to gain a better insight on the native American life before European arrival. Even
with modern day technological advancements and scientific approaches, many questions are left
unanswered. How did people went from the lawless society to chiefdoms to civilization?
Civilization requires taxation, law and order. How did the people evolve to follow law and
order? Was it because of religion that they were able to develop a civilization?
Throughout high school, I was taught that the Americas were sparsely populated. This raises an
ethical question: How many of the natives died because of the disease that explorers brought? Is
it morally justifiable to assert that the number of native were actually less and explorers were less
responsible for the their death and taking their lands? If the contemporary findings from the
historians such as Mann and Miller are true, then it is certainly legitimate to justify that
conquerors not only sacrificed their moral ethics and humanity in the greed of materialistic
wealth, they also challenged the key pillars of civilization: the need and respect for the another
group that does not share the common culture and livelihood.
The natives developed civilization in the places such as Tenochtitlan (Mexico city),
Teotihuacan(Mexico), and Tiahuanaco(Bolivia). These civilization had the scientific
developments comparable to those of “Rome” and “Greece.” They worshipped nature as god.
Most of them followed the path that their king led. Human sacrifice was a privilege granted to
“man of highest honor.” Some recent researches also shed light on natives’ decline: not the
disease but the internal fight. Some of the civilizations collapsed because of the internal power
struggle.
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History is what sets the present into perspective and context. Knowing that that the European-
brought disease wiped out majority of the natives have significant implication over how we
justify the conquerors being able to take over the American land and colonize it. However, if the
modern research can give us new perspective on the reasons native declined, then our
understanding of the conquest changes. The new perspective calls for justification of the
conquest and its moral and ethical implications.
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